Shelby Co. (ECWd) –
As the primary election (silly season) is now finally behind us, we have been baffled by the number of people making claims the Shelby County Forensic Audit only identified a $6,283 balance owed to employees of the Sheriff’s office. When attempting to discuss the matter a few chose to double down and spread the lie/misinformation far and wide while insinuating our reporting was wrong. We find such claims laughable at best because it appears we are the only media outlet who published the audit summary for everyone to actually read.
Quote from States Attorney Press Release:
“The audit revealed that $326,315 was overpaid to employees and $332,598 was underpaid to employees. The final result of the audit was a net underpayment to employees of $6,283.”
Most would expect when the top law enforcement entity in county government issues a press release it would contain accurate statements that represent the entirety of the matter rather than selective points that on the surface appear to have been done intentionally as a mechanism to try and sway an election. We say that because the talking points for a candidate who ran against the Treasure were riddled with this one claim of the audit only finding a $6,283.00 error. When such press releases are issued, the mainstream media and local media simply repeat what they are told because it came from a government source.
For those that have not read the audit, it did not say; that the final result of the audit was a net underpayment to employees of $6,283.00 as was stated by Kroncke.
Local press agencies ran with the information and basically quoted the State’s Attorney’s press release figures.
“The audit revealed that $326,315 was overpaid to employees and $332,598 was underpaid to employees. The final result of the audit was a net underpayment to employees of $6,283”
“A review of the records revealed that $326,315 was overpaid to employees and $332,598 was underpaid to employees. The final result of the audit was a net underpayment to employees of $6,283.”
“The audit showed that $326,315 was overpaid to employees and 332,598 was underpaid to employees. The final results were a net underpayment of $6,283.”
How special that they all missed this statement from the actual audit summary:
“In addition, the amount of payments to taxing bodies is $67,112 more than should have been paid.” (emphasis added)
They also failed to report the audit also exposes overpayments on taxes paid on hours not worked totaling $54,389.00. Another $26,279.00 in SLEP payments on non-eligible wages and $3,121.00 overpaid on taxes on improper deductions.
Just those three numbers above reflect the taxpayers overpaid $83,789.00 which needs to be recovered. With that kind of money owed to the taxpayer, we find it disingenuous at best for Kroncke or anyone else to claim that “The final result of the audit was a net underpayment to employees of $6,283.”
Where is the reporting of the Union Contract violations clearly identified in the audit? Violations that point to the County being owed $326,315.00?
Contract Violations –
- 4/10 Work Schedule – $276,786.00
- Rate of pay error (2 employees, one being the Sheriff’s son) – $1,266.00
- Health Insurance NOT deducted -$8,880.00
- Excess personal day – $11,727.00
- Extra Comp Time – $25,790.00
- Vacation Deficit – $1,866
Underpaid Taxes by the County
- Taxes avoided by improper holiday pay – $2,272.00
- Taxes avoided on overtime not paid – $13,905
What many fail to realize in this matter is the level of misinformation and the apparent cover-up of wrongdoing that has taken place.
For example, the audit found 11,808 hours paid out that were never worked. Or the log-in log-out file that was in fact the time-keeping document that magically was not available for the auditor but clearly available to the public and board members. The ISP was told it was not used for timekeeping yet that conflicts with what then former Sheriff Koonce told us in an official response for records.
For those that wish to insist the log-in log-out file was not used for timekeeping as was claimed during the criminal investigation, maybe they can explain why that was the document provided when I requested the following. (Actual FOIA at this link)
1. A copy of the actual hours worked (Start and Stop) for the Sheriff Office Deputies for the last 12 months~ all shifts.
2. A copy of the actual hours worked (Start and Stop) for the Sheriff Office Correction officers for the last 12 months, all shifts
When the public receives documents under FOIA, they are considered true and accurate. In this case, not only did former Sheriff Koonce claim those very records were in fact the start and stop time for deputies and correction officers, but he also confirmed it was our inquiry into the matter that brought this problem to the forefront.
“During a recent self-examination of all work schedules due to your inquiries, we realized the Deputies’ schedule with rotating days off and hours worked resulted in them working under 80 hrs. in some pay periods”
“We want to thank you for your FOIA request, without it we would not have noticed the oversight”
If the very records provided to me and others are ever used by the auditor, then the public will know the magnitude of the payroll fraud. Yes, we call it payroll fraud because people knew it was wrong. We know that because at least one good person in that very office contacted us to expose it, which indicates Koonce’s statement that this was a simple oversight is not true.
Suggested questions the public should be demanding answers for.
- What steps is the County Board taking to recover the taxpayer funds owed to the county?
- When is the County Board going to direct the auditor to complete the audit by including the log-in, and log-out file that was withheld from him during the audit?
- Will anyone be held accountable for destroying records in the middle of both a criminal investigation and an audit?
- Will anyone be held accountable for lying about the start/stop records by telling the public they were used for timekeeping but later telling the ISP they were not? (Cant have it both ways. It was the official record up until they realized there was a criminal investigation)
- What is the total paid out for the 11,808 hours not worked?
- What steps are being taken to recover those funds?
- If after a complete audit of ALL the applicable documents it shows employees are actually owed anything, will the County make them whole?
- If they are not actually owed money but were truly overpaid, will the County Board take appropriate steps to recover those funds?
We understand the forensic auditor will be attending the July County Board meeting to answer questions from the board. We urge members of the board and the public to take on the tough task of not only fixing this matter but getting to the real “final result”.